The Fork

Here we are in week 10 of the lockdown and I doubt many people have even noticed it is actually the half-term break.

It is proving to be a strange week of Cummings and (not quite) goings but you must not relax those efforts in your quest to beat your children at chess.

Our chess lesson this week may have you running to the kitchen to make sure you are getting the point. Yes, it is time to get serious about your chess tactics - and this week our twin-pronged lesson utilises the worksheet and Kahoot quiz to focus on the fork.

In fact I have it on good authority that since the enforced closure of the fast food establishments the humble fork has been making an unexpected comeback. Indeed, the last time we saw so many forks was way back in November but anyone with a burning ambition to find out more on the subject will be pleased to know they are now springing up all the tine.

What exactly is a fork in chess? Very simply, it is when one piece attacks two or more of the opponent’s pieces at the same time. The action is just like sticking the prongs of a fork into different items of food.

Imagine you could attack an opponent’s king and queen at the same time. They could only save one piece - it would have to be the king - and then you would win your opponent’s queen! Imagine the power that would give you on the chessboard. A free queen - and all you had to do was remember a simple chess tactic!

Your children will be surprised, impressed and disappointed all at the same time when you unleash a fabulous fork against them over the chess board.

Even better; if you study the worksheet you will even be able to drop in the names of some famous chess champions.


‘Oh yes,’ you will say as you move in for the kill with your deadly tactic. ‘I first saw this trick in one of Petrosian’s games in the 1966 World Chess Championship. It was against Boris Spassky, if I recall correctly.’

Careful study of Lesson 14 will enable you to spring unexpected attacks on kings, queens, cast- err, I mean rooks, bishops, knights and pawns. No pieces are safe from forks and, as the worksheet rightly says, ‘Tactics are the building blocks to better chess.’

Build up your chess NOW!

Attack and Defence

Last week we discussed the art of Scholar’s Mate and the Kiss of Death. I have subsequently been offered good money to reveal the name of the person who put me off mistletoe for life but my lips remain sealed.

This week, the chess lesson worksheets and Kahoot! quizzes turn their attention to the art of defence.

When we start playing chess any attack seems to come crashing through. Two pieces line up together and before we know it our king is in checkmate. Is chess a forced win for White?


It is time to add a little sophistication to your game; time to rise up against the scourge of the four-move checkmate; time to take control of the chessboard in YOUR home.

This is no trivial matter, as Confucius, he say: ‘Whoever controls the chessboard, controls the TV remote control also.’

I remember the time when a member of my first chess club started to study the art of defence. Suddenly, our attacks were found wanting. Wanting stronger moves, usually. We gradually stopped attacking with our queens so early in the game. It all became too much of a gamble, with the odds stacked too heavily against our early attacks.

Fast-forward a few decades and I am pleased to say I have never returned to such gambling ways, despite extreme provocation. ‘Who do you fancy in the Grand National?’ asked one Head Office wag. ‘None of them; they’re all horses,’ I steadfastly replied. The wag then tried to get me place a bet on the horse with the most chess-related name, but I was too embarrassed to go into the betting shop and say ‘Hoof-hearted’ out loud.

Come on, chess parents! It is time to replace the gamble with cold calculation. Our new lesson will teach you how to count the attackers and defenders, to help you work out whether the attack is stronger than the defence. You will also learn about which World Champion liked to attack and which one preferred to defend. Yes, both roads to success are possible!

Which approach matches your own style? Are you a determined attacker or a cool defender?

Don’t just sit there - head for Lesson 13 to find out!

The Kiss of Death


Last week our chess lessons introduced you to ranks, files and the famous lawnmower checkmate, thus giving you plenty of opportunities to impress your children with your extraordinary - and hitherto unrevealed - grasp of chess words and phrases.

This week brings more tricks, traps and terminology - all of which you’ll soon have down to a “T”.

The Kiss of Death! The first time I heard that phrase was at the annual CSC Head Office party a few years ago. Now the merest mention of it makes me panic and hide the mistletoe.

Fortunately, you will need to do neither of those things but instead you will find out a particularly memorable way to checkmate your opponent’s king. It will be just like the aforementioned office party; once experienced, never forgotten.

Meanwhile, Lesson 12 will also show you how to win a game of chess against the unwary in just four moves. The method is known as Scholar’s Mate and it is something you definitely need to know.

Many years ago, when I was at school, someone won a game by using Scholar’s Mate in our chess club. Suddenly everyone was doing the same and we spent several months believing White could force a victory in just four moves no matter what Black did to try and stop it.

After all those months of lots of quick games but not much fun, one of the club members managed to stop Scholar’s Mate, purely by accident. The magical answer was written on a slate and we passed it around.

No longer would we lose in four moves as Black! Sometimes we even made it to move 10 without an early disaster.

The good news is that unlike the children at our chess club all those ago, you will not have to endure several months of unfulfilled promise and disappointment. Well, not until Love Island returns next year, anyway. No! Because Lesson 12 not only shows you how to play for a quick checkmate in four moves - it also shows you how to stop it!

Now you can amaze your children by beating them in four moves and when they try to do the same to you in the next game you will unveil your magnificent defence and they will not be able to secure a swift revenge.

Oh, chess parents…what are you waiting for? Head straight to Lesson 12 right now!

Chess for the Rank and File

Life during lockdown leaves very few excuses for not attempting to improve your chess skills.

As you know, we have been creating free chess resources designed to entice complete novices into the world of chess and everyone can easily master the very basics of the six chess pieces.

How many of you have been brave enough to challenge your children? Hmm…not many.

NOW is the time to start putting your new skills into action. Take a quick refresher course in each of the pieces using our first six lessons and you will be good to go with our mini-games.

We can’t all take our place amongst the finest chess generals ever seen. Most of us will always belong to the rank and file - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being in such positions.

In fact knowledge of ranks and files will give you the advantage in chess. Here is a crash-course with everything you need to know.

Ranks and Files - Essential Knowledge

Ranks are the lines going across the board, horizontally.

Files are lines going up and down the board, vertically.

There are eight ranks and eight files.

If you have set up your chess board correctly (you need a white square in the bottom righthand corner) and it has coordinates around the sides, the files will have a letter at each end and the ranks will have numbers.

Chess juniors don’t really pay much attention to such information, as they are too busy learning how to checkmate their opponents as quickly as possible. This is good news for you, because you will be able to drop your new knowledge sparingly into your casual chess conversations. Your children will then look at you with new respect as they finally begin to understand that you have indeed been studying the great game of chess using our CSC resources. Or maybe they will just ignore you and ask what time the next meal will be happening.

Either way, make sure you don’t miss our brand new lessons which can be found in the Lesson 11 worksheets and Kahoot quizzes, for they contain plenty of tips on how to use your knowledge of ranks and files to pull out some wonderful checkmates, which may well come as big surprises to your children.

Yes! This time you will find out how to master the art of the famous back rank checkmate, often carried out by moving a rook down one of the files. You see? Everything is fitting together very nicely. We don’t just throw this stuff together, you know.

If you are very fortunate you may also learn the mysteries of the lawnmower checkmate. That reminds me - if the rest of your chores are taking a back seat due to the increasing amount time you have to spend on chess study then I have a helpful tip for you. Water your lawns with Whisky and they will come up half-cut.

Have fun playing your children and stay tuned to this blog for further tips!

Staying Safe


Well, well! Here we all are, still locked down. It is as if we have fallen down a rabbit hole into a strange new world. We have to stay sensible and safe until we can emerge again.

There is nothing we can do about it, but the wise people know this enforced time at home is an excellent opportunity to learn lots of new things and also to add to existing skills.

Now that our Chess at Home resources are moving into their third week, it is time to take stock of the situation.

Have you played your children at chess yet, or are you still absorbing the rich and varied content provided - free of charge - by Chess in Schools and Communities? Delaying the challenge to your chess champion children is a good way of staying safe, but the time is fast approaching when you will be able to unleash all of your new chess skills. You will soon be able to offer them the challenge of a lifetime - with bedtime at stake. Imagine the power, peace and quiet you could enjoy!


Last time we gave you one million reasons why chess is increasing its impact upon homes all across the country. Yes, at this very moment, one million free accounts for the ChessKid site are being distributed amongst our schools. Spare a thought for poor Mr Harding, who has been locked away for weeks inputting all of the new accounts. We had to give his typing fingers the day off yesterday (he had to input the accounts with his toes indeed).


Eagle-eyed readers may already have noticed that the ChessKid initiative - which, incidentally, made it into the newspapers and television news - was just one part of our chess revolution. Incidentally, there is still time for your school to sign up its free accounts.

Head to our special Chess at Home page and you will find 30 ways to help you with your chess.

We have worksheets, Kahoot! quizzes and YouTube videos. The three series of instructional material on offer combine very well to cover all of the basics of chess and are absolutely ideal for total chess novices.

Now is not the time to be intimidated by chess and the amount of material we are providing. As Lewis Carroll famously wrote in Alice in Wonderland:

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’


By that time we will have more lessons for you.

The first 10 lessons in each series will guide you all the way to starting your first games of chess - and the very special move of castling. After all, in every emergency it is very important to stay safe - especially if you are the chess King!

One in a Million

Is anybody out there still sticking to the art of home tutoring? Please keep your hands up, until I have finished counting.

Well, that didn’t take long!

You all need some new ideas and activities - and, fortunately, we are here to help.

In our first blog post we gently teased a number of new chess initiatives and it is now time to unveil some of the projects we have been working on over the last few weeks.

Some can wait until the next blog and we have a million great reasons to hold back some of our good news for now.

Chess in Schools and Communities have teamed up with ChessKid to offer one million free online accounts, which will be valid for three months.

ChessKid is a very safe online chess community, offering a playing zone for friendly and tournament games, plus enough chess puzzles to keep even the most enthusiastic of students busy during the current emergency.

 One million! Think about; that’s a big number by anyone’s standards. However, this time there is no sign of Chris Tarrant, Jeremy Clarkson or even Jaime Sommers (ask your Dad) - but to give so many ChessKid accounts to the nation is an unprecedented act of chess philanthropism.

The offer is open to Primary Schools and parents. You don’t even need to be currently involved with a CSC school.

 Who wants to be a chess player?

YOU do - and there has never been a better time to come on board. If you would like to get free accounts for your school, please sign up here. If you are a parent and you would like a free account for you child, please sign up here.

The benefits of playing chess have been well documented. It teaches essential skills such as problem solving, logical thinking and concentration. Chess has no boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity or disability, and can be played anywhere at any time. Playing the game fosters intellectual and emotional skills, crucial to a child’s wider development.

 What’s more, chess is uniquely suited to the Internet and can be played on any device. It transcends generations and, when played online, it can connect friends and family members of all ages,enabling them to stay in touch during this trying time, in an engaging way.

So come on, everybody! It is time to learn the greatest of all games. Sign up for your free account, get all of your friends and children involved and keep on challenging them as often as you can.

Allow us to demystify the ancient game of chess and you will be improving your skills before you know it.

In fact, you will be one in a million!

Turning the Tables

We know what it is like…

Home Schooling is a very noble and essential part of the day during the current emergency. The timetables created for the first week looked great and worked well. Everyone got up early and announced their intention to stick to the routine, come what may. Maths, English, Science, History all featured heavily and there was even scope for PE, albeit just once a day, under the current restrictions. If the shouting from the neighbours was an accurate portrayal of events then we can safely say RE was not forgotten either.

By the second week the strain is already starting to show. The timetable slips; nobody is up at 7.30 a.m. to start their Maths lessons any more. Everyone is distracted, concentrating on when the next plate of food will be arriving or whose turn it is with the toilet roll.

Week three arrives and the children have had enough of enforced learning. The Maths is too difficult, especially all that stuff about finding the area of a triangle, nobody in the house knows what a fronted adverbial is and as for the Y7 work on the human reproductive system…well…!

Fortunately, parents have reached that critical moment of rapidly declining interest too. The only people still getting up early are the ones who want to hide the pasta.Thoughts turn from core curriculum subjects to more serious matters, such as when will Eastenders start filming again, do takeaway establishments still deliver quickly and how long will it be before childminders can enter the house once more? Education takes a nap…and let’s face it, we wouldn’t know a concrete noun if we fell over it.

We know what it is like…we work in schools!

Help is at hand! It is time to turn the tables. Tired of trying to teach your children?

Let your children teach YOU!

Every week we deliver chess lessons to full classes in over 300 UK schools. I could tell you how many children that we reach, but who wants another Maths lesson at the moment?
Here’s the idea…let your children teach you how to play chess!

Allow the children to demonstrate to you the names and moves of the six individual pieces. They will teach you how to play our mini-games. You will end up hoping the emergency will last long enough for you to beat your little superstars at chess before normality is restored. We have a lot of new and exciting projects in the pipeline to help you succeed!

Yes, we guarantee we can offer all of the assistance you could ever need. All you have to do is stay tuned…

Sean Marsh